Agri Business

GI tag sought for India’s costliest mushroom

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on January 17, 2021

Gucchi from J&K is an heirloom crop which retails for over ₹20,000 a kg

A geographical indication (GI) tag has been sought for one of the costliest mushrooms in the world that grows in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district.

Locally called Gucchi, or Morel, the mushroom, priced at over ₹20,000 a kg, is a forest produce collected by local farmers and tribals. Last June, saffron from the State had been granted a GI tag.

The GI tag application for Gucchi mushroom was filed at the Geographical Indication Registry recently by Jammu-based NGO Border World Foundation and facilitated by the Director of Agriculture, J&K.

The spongy, edible fungus that is said to have medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties is found in the temperate forests of the Doda district. The applicants hope that a GI tag will create branding and commercial interest for this rare heirloom crop, thereby helping the tribal populace dependent on it for their livelihoods.

Intellectual property (IP) lawyer Ganesh Hingmire, who initiated the application, said the idea was to protect the borders of India through the IP walls of GI tags.

District Magistrate and Development Commissioner of Doda, Sagar Doifode, said the process of filing the application had been in the works for a year. The GI recognition could help local farmers get higher prices for their efforts, he added.

Rajma beans, Gucchi mushrooms and lavender plants grow well in Doda valley due to its climate. The mushroom are collected in March after the snow melts.

Gourmet dishes

The exotic wild mushrooms are used in pulaos and served during celebratory occasions such as marriages. They also find a place on the gourmet menus of high-end restaurants.

The Dum Pukht restaurant in ITC Maurya, New Delhi, offers Gucchi pulao at ₹2,500 plus taxes.

The annual production of the wild mushroom in J&K is about 45 tonnes. Although primarily obtained from the forests and pastures of Doda district, it is also found in the high altitude areas of Kupwara, Pahalgam, Shopian, Kishtwar and Poonch. A few attempts have been made to cultivate it in farms.

Nutrition value

The mushrooms are cherished for their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. They are also considered a rich source of protein, carbohydrates and Vitamin B.

J&K’s Principal Secretary of Agriculture Production Department, Navin Kumar Choudhary, said the GI tag will benefit local farmers trying to grow them on their farms.

Published on January 17, 2021

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